There are lessons you can teach your kids through warning, like “Don’t spit into the wind,” and others they can only learn through agony, like “Don’t eat concessions stand sushi.”
I wasn’t nagging my kid about anything when he left at 4 a.m. on a Saturday for the University of Wyoming Bands Day in Laramie — he was too happy. Later that day, he and other young marching band students would get to perform at the Cowboys football game halftime show with the UW Western Thunder marching band.
How could I ruin it by nattering about all the disasters he might face along the way?
After the school bus swallowed up our Firstborn and his band, The Husband and I rounded up our three younger sons and stalked the bus all the way to Laramie so we could watch the show.
It’s a picturesque drive. I spent it wishing I owned all the cows grazing on the mountain pass.
The Husband was excited to take the boys to their first UW game.
If any one of you reading this column is the type who likes to burn people at the stake for not liking football, look away.
My upbringing was more of the try-to-survive type than the we-care-about-football type. So it never has clicked for me. I know there’s some magic that makes everyone put on matching shirts, crowd into a bowl and chant war songs together, but it can’t penetrate my frontal lobe. Like a tourist tromping into a buzzing monastery, I tried too late to join the faith.
The UW game got off to a lively start. The yellow giants went forward and the turquoise giants went backward. Everyone cheered.
“Go team!” I yelled in the exact moment everyone else hushed.
The Husband patted my head.
I was concerned for the men on the field, crashing helmets, bashing shoulders, but The Husband said not to worry.
Then I fretted over a pretty cheerleader with athletic tape wrapped around her ankle.
“Aww, look. The poor little thing is hurt,” I said.
But The Husband and the boys were lost to me, drowning in the glory of a ball’s flight to a painted rectangle.
Then came halftime.
My Firstborn crossed the field carrying his saxophone. He stood up straight. He casually saluted someone on the field.
I beamed as he took his place next to Western Thunder.
I could not have known at the time that 20 concessions stand California rolls stewed within him.
After the halftime show, The Husband turned to me.
“Hey,” he began in his tone of eternal tolerance, “You can go for a run if you want to. You don’t have to stay for the whole game.”
“Really?!” I squealed. “Thank you!”
I wear running shoes to sporting events in case of just such a chance for escape.
I bolted through Laramie and to some trails just outside of it, where I spent a happy hour running hills.
On the way back to the stadium I passed a Burger King and saw just one couple eating inside it. And they weren’t even wearing UW clothes.
“Yikes, why aren’t these misanthropic weirdos at the game like everyone else?” I thought to myself, just before realizing I’m the Burger King of all misanthropic weirdos.
I made it back to the stadium in time to catch the Cowboys’ victory. The Husband and the boys marched out of there, chanting, and ducked elegantly into our car as if we’d just taken Rome.
Then The Husband bought us meat from Arby’s, and that was the real win for me.
We started the drive back home.
At that same time in a school bus packed with musicians, the boy after my own heart was shouting for the driver to pull over so he could get sick on Wyoming and be free of his sushi.
But it broke his heart because he loves sushi, and those rolls had been such a good bargain.
When he finally got home, I pressed my hand to his clammy temple.
“Well, babe, don’t order concessions stand sushi ever again,” said I.
He twisted his mouth in defiance. Like a man whose concussions won’t keep him away from a painted grassy rectangle. Like a girl whose sprained ankle won’t keep her from cheering atop someone else’s shoulders.
“Nah,” he said. “I prob’ly will.”
Clair McFarland can be reached at Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com.